DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have been a runner for 15 years. I am 55, 5 feet 10 inches tall and weigh 165 pounds. I believe I am in good health, and my family history is quite good. Both of my parents are alive in their late 80s and are very vigorous.

Lately, I have noticed my heart skipping a beat when I run. I run about 30 miles a week. I saw my doctor, who did an EKG. He said it was normal, but he sent me for further tests, which included a stress test. The stress test report said I had several PVCs when my heart rate rose to 155. No one has told me what this means. Can I still run? – B.K.

ANSWER:
You have to see the doctor who set this in motion to get a final verdict to your question. If that doctor isn’t your regular doctor, get one or see a cardiologist.

PVCs – premature ventricular contractions – in most instances are insignificant. They’re extra beats, occurring between two normal beats. People know when a PVC happens; it makes a thud in their chest.

PVCs that occur in a row are more ominous. Did your report say they were consecutive? If it did, you should stop running until you’ve had a doctor review your case. Consecutive PVCs can indicate a serious heart-rhythm disturbance.

As a matter of fact, stop running even if your report didn’t say you have consecutive PVCs. It’s better to play this safe.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I like to walk after dinner. My wife thinks this isn’t the best time for me to walk. She says I should walk before I eat. She also says that if I do, she’ll join me. That’s all the more reason for me to walk after dinner.

Is it dangerous for me to walk after the evening meal? – K.W.

ANSWER:
It’s not ideal to exercise on a full stomach. Exercising muscles divert blood from the digestive tract. It makes it harder for the body to assimilate food. That advice, however, applies to truly vigorous exercise. Walking isn’t such a vigorous exertion.

You can walk after dinner – if walking isn’t disturbing you with things like stomach cramps or diarrhea.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com


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